A Metaheuristic for Shift Design in Ground Handling Operations, Algo-seminar by Tommy Clausen


The Shift Design Problem is the problem of creating shifts for work personnel, detailing their working hours, break schedule, etc. The objective of Shift Design is to create shifts that covers a given workload as efficiently as possible, subject to a large number of constraints governed by labor contracts and organizational rules. The shift design problem is an integral part of the Workforce Scheduling Problem, which creates working schedules (rosters) for personnel.

We investigate the Shift Design Problem in the context of personnel staffing for services around landed aircraft, collectively known as Aircraft Ground Handling. These operations include manning check-in counters and boarding gates, cleaning or replenishing aircraft supplies, and ramp operations such as pushback and cargo loading. Many of these operations depend directly on flight times and airport schedules, which can change significantly during the day. They are therefore time-critical and highly sensitive to delays.

We present a metaheuristic based on Simulated Annealing for the Shift Design Problem with emphasis on robustness and a flexible handling of the many different rules arising in ground handling. Preliminary results are presented on real-life data from a European ground handling operation.